Sarah MacDonald (pseudonym) started getting migraine headaches the summer before she started college. During her first year of college, she was in a car accident and hit her head. Her migraines got much worse. More than once a week, she had to stay in bed all day, in darkness and silence, not eating anything. She tried pain killers. None worked. "They spread out the pain," she said. "They made me totally stupid." The only relief was sleep. The summer after her freshman year (2004), she stopped getting her period. In November, she saw a doctor near her university (Mount Allison, in New Brunswick). Blood tests showed that her prolactin was way off. The likely cause, said the doctors, was a tumor on the pituitary. But CAT scans and MRIs found nothing. The tumor must be small, her doctors said. It would grow and become visible. She waited for this to happen. Her doctors kept ordering new scans, looking for the tumor. Eventually she had two CAT scans and five MRIs. None found a tumor. During the year of waiting, she tried about fifty different drugs. None helped. I'm getting desperate, she told her doctors. "You need to give the medicine more time to work," they said. It was almost a requirement of treatment that she start taking birth control pills. Over the same year that she tried fifty drugs for her migraines, she tried thirteen different birth control pills, hoping to find one that was tolerable and made her migraines better. She never did. None of them made her migraines worse, but some caused nausea.
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